Each weekday morning, Daniel Mosquera, professor of Spanish, Hispanic, and Latin American and Caribbean Studies and his partner, Megan Ferry, professor of Chinese and Asian studies, climb into one of their two electric vehicles for the 20-minute commute to campus.
It’s a routine the couple has followed for nearly five years. As they made their way to Union from Albany, traffic was not the main challenge. Instead, with only two dual port electric charging stations on campus by Facilities, finding a space to plug in their Nissan Leaf or Prius Prime was often a chore.
The College has put the brakes on that problem.
Since December, Union has added nine new dual port charging stations around campus, bringing to 22 from four the number of spots available for electric vehicle users.
Paid for in part through grants from National Grid and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the new stations should encourage more EV users, an important step in pushing the College to achieve its goal of carbon neutrality.
Typically, an electric car produces 4,815 pounds of CO2-equivalent emissions per year, compared to 11,435 from the average gasoline-powered car.
“Emissions from faculty, staff and student commuting, as well as from our college-owned vehicles, represent 10 percent of our overall carbon footprint,” said Alex Lykins, sustainability coordinator. “Improving our electric vehicle charging infrastructure and educating the campus in battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles will help reduce these emissions.”
Once thought of as a novelty, electric vehicles sales have soared in the last few years, from a few hundred thousand in 2014 to more than 1.6 million currently. A recent national report estimated that EVs will represent 11 percent of all vehicle sales by 2025 and 28 percent by 2030.
There were nine registered EV users at Union in 2016. That number has increased to 22 as of this month. Lykins expects that growth to continue, especially with the addition of more charging stations.
Drivers who want to use the charging stations must register their vehicles with Facilities. Access to the stations is through the EV Connect mobile app. The public can also use the stations via the app.
Users are charged a fee of 18 cents per kilowatt hour to charge their vehicle. Lykins said the fee offsets the operation and maintenance of the stations.
Electric vehicles can go 68 to 315 miles on a full charge. Generally, it takes a few hours to fully charge an electric vehicle. Drivers are encouraged to move their car as soon as charging is complete to allow others to use the stations.
With roughly 1,300 parking spots across campus, designating 22 spots for electric vehicles should have little to no impact on parking for regular vehicles, said Chris Hayen, director of Campus Safety. Officers will monitor the stations to make sure non-electric vehicles don’t occupy the designated spots.
To coincide with Earth Day on Monday, Lykins is planning an extensive campaign to educate the campus community about the new charging stations and to encourage more electric vehicle users.
“Adding these stations not only positions us as a leader in sustainability, but also ensures we are prepared for the future,” Lykins said.
The additional stations are already a hit with Mosquera and other electric vehicle users. They credit Lykins with taking the initiative and finding funding to make it happen.
“They are terrific,” he said. “Easy to use, sophisticated and relatively sturdy. A lot of people feel afraid of EV's because they represent a substantial shift from what is routine to most of us when driving or traveling by car. Rather than taking away our transportation independence, they offer a different, much healthier type of autonomy. And the impact to the environment, as EV users increase, is in the aggregate quite considerable.”
Lots with EV charging stations:
College Park Hall
Phi Delta Theta House (50-yard line house)